Mercedes has clearly lost their way with the development of their car. This is hardly a unique situation for this team with each year since 1999, BAR’s debut season, they have struggled to develop the car. Even looking at their 2009 title success the team struggled to develop the car on a par with their rivals. Jenson Button’s early season run of victories was the foundation of his championship success and the majority of the rest of the year saw Red Bull dominate proceedings.
If Mercedes are to challenge for the championship in the future they need to do a much better job of developing the car. The season started with a very competitive car that had numerous unique approaches to the regulations and their double DRS was clearly a crucial advantage in qualifying at the early races.
With the likes of Lotus using the double DRS now the advantage has been lost and Mercedes has fallen down the field. The team have said that they will continue to develop the car in an attempt to regain fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship but it seems like they are swimming against the tide at this point.
On a positive note for Mercedes Michael Schumacher has been much improved this year. While his tally of 27 points does not reflect it the seven times world champion has been more than a match for Nico Rosberg. Schumacher finally claimed a rostrum spot for the first time since returning to F1 with a solid drive in Valencia but his early season form was particularly impressive.
His pole position lap at Monaco showed that he still has more than enough speed to compete at the highest level and while he is clearly not the driver that he was once he is proving more than worthy of his place on the grid. An extension to his contract has been discussed and it is likely to be signed in the coming weeks.
For Rosberg the season has seen him finally claim his long awaited first victory but he still remains a difficult driver to quantify. He has shown consistency and maturity throughout his top flight career and clearly has a lot of speed but there are still question marks hanging over his head. A solid finish to the campaign would go a long way to settling any questions that still remain within the paddock.
For this to happen Mercedes need to find much greater consistency. Their car seems to be one of the most track temperature dependant on the grid with slight changes in temperature bringing about huge swings in performance. This is clearly an inherit problem with the design of the car and finding a solution will be exceptionally difficult in the coming months but it will clearly be the focus of development for the team for next year’s car.